When I was about 10, I remember sitting down for dinner with my dad. Some ketchup had gotten on the table, and I picked up my (fancy) cloth napkin and swiped it over the spill. My dad looked at me in horror. I had ruined the napkin, and I got a huge lecture about the value of a dollar. Up until that point, I didn’t know that the fancy napkin had to be taken care of in a certain way. It was now stained and soggy with ketchup. I was very confused about my dad’s anger with me.
Growing up, I struggled to find the true value of money. Like most kids, I thought it was something that grown ups just had. They went to the bank and asked for a certain amount and then it was theirs. Simple enough, right?
When I was younger, I was fortunate enough to want for nothing. I grew up in a neighborhood that could pass for the set of Pleasantville. I got a car when I turned 16. I didn’t have student loans. Yes, this was my life. Yes, this is why I thought money was no object. Yes, this is why I ruined the napkin. I was (am) very lucky and very fortunate. In the back of my head, I knew that this gravy train would eventually come a halt when I went out on my own, so I prepped myself a bit. I got jobs, my own bank account, some Suze Orman books, and learned how to be financially stable as a young adult. When the money ran out, I would be okay.
After I got married, I was “cut off” from the family. I was booted from the family plan and they took back their iPass (still salty about that one). I put cut off in proverbial quotations above because I actually still rely on my parents for money. Before you judge the hell out of me, let me actually break down what that means.
When my husband and I got engaged, my dad came to me and offered me a lump sum. It was enough to have the most beautiful wedding a girl could dream of. It was enough for a nice down payment on a house. I needed to make a decision. I needed to figured out a way to get the best of both worlds. Through the art of DIY and Groupon and budgeting (thanks, Suze Orman!), I was able to have a small (gorgeous) wedding and put a down payment on a home. Without the generosity of my parents, this would never have been a reality. I was working as a freelance writer and my husband had a part-time job playing music at a church. We weren’t millionaires, if you catch my drift.
Without that down payment, we’d be in an apartment somewhere throwing away $1,500 a month. Instead, because I am lucky enough to have the family I have, I can invest in this property.
There have been other instances in my life (emergency hospital bills, taxes, etc.) where I have been in such a panic because I had no idea how I was going to pay them, but I swallow my pride and reach out to the two people who I know will always be there for me. My dad is happy to do it because instead of going to a bank and getting charged interest, he just makes me come over more for Sunday dinner. It’s very Gilmore Girls.
My husband and I budget every month to make sure that as fast as we can, we will pay them back every cent they have generously lended to us. Our wedding was a gift. The rest are loans.
So I work three jobs, as does my husband, and we scrimp and save and tighten our purse strings. We don’t want to rely on them for every single financial mishap that happens. We want to be able to save enough that down the road, when an unexpected expense comes up, we can handle it on our own.
I know a lot of people reading this are going to roll their eyes or give me grief for even thinking about writing this or fire back with their “MUST BE NICE” type comments, which is fine, they’re entitled to their opinion of me. But I won’t let this be written without the full disclosure of how undoubtedly grateful I am. My husband and I fully realize this is definitely the exception to the rule, but I also realize that there may be a bit more exceptions than we think. People just won’t talk about it because it's a bit embarrassing. It can be. I get it. No one really wants to admit that they’re pushing 30 and still leaning on the parental units for cash, but I’m here to say that it’s okay.
I don’t feel lesser because they’ve helped me out. I don’t feel like I’m still a child. I don’t feel discouraged or meek or ashamed. I guess I don’t see the difference between getting a loan from my parents and getting a loan from a bank. My bank just happens to love me unconditionally and have multiple home movies of me in the bathtub as a baby.